The Canadian Football League’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats hired Art Briles on Monday as an assistant coach. The team then heard from angry fans and angry media, and before Monday ended the voices had become so loud that the job offer was withdrawn.
Briles, 61, became famous and infamous at Baylor. He won games. He won Big 12 championships, two in a row. But that’s not the legacy that clings to him, or should.
Briles was fired after a sexual assault scandal at the Baptist school. Briles was accused of ignoring complaints of sexual assault against his players or discouraging women from reporting them.
Baylor fired him in the summer of 2016.
You can’t be involved in any facet of sexual assault, whether as a coach or an athlete, and expect to go though life with impunity. (Boxer Floyd Mayweather has a history of assaulting women, so perhaps there are exceptions.)
What Briles did at Baylor is in no way comparable to what Colin Kaepernick did last season with the San Francisco 49ers. But I’d love to know how many NFL owners refuse to hire Kaepernick because of the publicity the hiring would generate.
Kaepernick refused to stand last season for the national anthem. He wanted to call attention to oppression of people of color.
What would happen to the team that did hire Kaepernick? Would fans boo him? Would season-ticket holders call and write to complain? Would fans turn in their tickets and engage in a personal boycott of Kaepernick’s employer?
Some would. But let’s say Cam Newton’s arm is not ready when Carolina opens the season and backup Derek Anderson starts. If the Panthers were to open the season with a loss on the road to San Francisco or at home against Buffalo and New Orleans, fans would scream for a new quarterback.
Some would scream for Kaepernick. Kaepernick is not a great quarterback. But he’s better than several NFL starters and most reserves.
If Carolina quarterback Cam Newton’s shoulder is worse than we believe – he’s thrown two passes in three exhibition games – I’d love to see the Panthers pursue Kaepernick, who like Newton can move. How much money does Kapernick want? We don’t know. Would Kaepernick accept being a backup? We don’t know. If Newton doesn’t play, would you rather entrust the Carolina offense to – Kaepernick or Anderson? This, we know.